Group of people talk about the roots of addiction

Understanding the Roots of Addiction and Society's Role


Sober Recovery Expert Author

Group of people talk about the roots of addiction

To increase the chances of successfully overcoming addiction and regaining a functioning life, getting to the bottom of one’s addiction is necessary. If the underlying causes are not identified, you may become stagnant or bored and face a greater chance of relapse.

There is often a mixture of variables that contribute to addiction. Below are the more common causes linked to addictive behavior.

In order to increase the chances of successfully overcoming addiction and regaining a functioning life, it is necessary to get to the bottom of one’s addiction.
  • A co-existing mental health condition: Individuals with an undiagnosed mental health condition may self-medicate to reduce their depression, anxiety, or hyperactivity symptoms. This, over time, can cause a destructive habit to form—sometimes completely unintentionally. The dependency on a substance can then become psychological and/or physical, leading the user to suffer withdrawals when they miss the usual substance dose.
  • Low self-esteem: Low self-esteem can sometimes be blamed for the beginnings of addiction, helping people with social situations and self-doubt due to the numbing of overactive or negative thought processes when intoxicated.
  • Environment: People who spend time around others who use substances may believe dependency or self-medication to be normal behavior.
  • Genetics: Genetics is most definitely a factor in addiction predisposition, however rarely the sole reason.

Society’s Part in the Crime

Bruce Alexander, a 1970s addiction theorist famous for pioneering his findings in morphine and cocaine-addicted rats, presented a more progressive theory that addiction is mostly based on our immediate surroundings and environment. The theory is properly named Dislocation Theory and proposes that society is ultimately responsible for addiction. More explicitly, it is a society that creates divides in wealth and opportunity, shuns those who are not functioning at the desired level, allows the taboo of addiction, and continues to criminalize drug addicts.

Alexander argues the politics and laws of an individual country are partly responsible for causing and maintaining sources of addiction and its rate of decline. Poverty, social demographic, and the criminality of many substances involved in addiction, he argues, mean that the roots will never be dealt with for most people until the right decisions are made in drug laws.

Addiction Treatment and Hope – New Roots, New Shoots

Frontiers in Psychiatry’s “Addiction and Choice: Theory and New Data” also has new scientific methods to measure the previously harmful, reluctant or random, and even self-sabotaging behaviors in addiction cycles. While childhood trauma, environment, mental health, co-morbidity of other health issues, and genetic predisposition to enhanced or depleted reward mechanisms in dopamine release all invariably play an influential part, the causes and roots that lie in the human condition expressed above can now be, according to Frontiers, scientifically measured.

Previously thought of as chaotic variables that contradicted our understanding of addiction, we can now combine this new knowledge and the wider accountability of society with tried and tested assessment and treatment options for those with addictive personalities. This continued work and greater understanding will, one day, may ensure lifelong sobriety for all those who seek it.

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